Manchester United dream XI with Manuel Ugarte and double centre-back signings

Manuel Ugarte of Paris Saint-Germain
-Credit: (Image: Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

Erik ten Hag has three key targets perfectly laid out as the Manchester United manager hopes to improve his squad for the upcoming campaign.

This is the first summer window that the club have had since fresh backing from Sir Jim Ratcliffe arrived, and the billionaire is on course to throw his cheque book at numerous additions to the squad. For some time, there was confusion as to whether that would be under the current manager's watch, though a long process culminated in Ten Hag being handed the confidence of the board to oversee an improvement on last season.

Business is set to be done strategically, though, with frivolous spending - whether that be because of United's or the selling club's marked-up valuations - a thing of yesteryear. The basis of a strong squad capable of development is there; it just requires smart additions in line with important exits.

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The first area identified for an upgrade is midfield, particularly the defensive aspect of Ten Hag's engine room.

Kobbie Mainoo's emergence has sealed the long-term future of one quality option for the Dutchman, arriving at the perfect time as the form of Casemiro dwindled compared to his first year in English football. Christian Eriksen could not be relied upon as heavily either, so a new, younger recruit seems like the best route to take to rediscover success at Old Trafford.

Casemiro, recently linked to Fenerbahce, should be allowed to move on, begrudgingly at a loss for Ratcliffe and Co but that was a prospect United surely understood when signing a 30-year-old two years ago. In his place would come Manuel Ugarte of Paris Saint-Germain.

The Uruguay international, 23, only moved to the French capital last summer, though recent reports say his manager, Luis Enrique, is already sanctioning his departure. It is also claimed United have seen a rejected offer in this rapidly evolving story.

Ugarte ranked in the 99th percentile of tackles per 90 minutes in Ligue 1 last year and also in the 96th percentile of interceptions. His defensive rigidity can help to sure up a team that leaked goals at the worst times last year, and then his pass completion rate of 91.2 percent can then aid the team in transition.

To complete the transformation, United then need to seek out two world-class options for the heart of defence.

Jarrad Branthwaite is the name that immediately comes to mind. He is evidently the dream, as Ten Hag and Ratcliffe actively pursue the Everton man. They know any deal to be struck will only come at an extortionate price, but just watching the defender go about his business on the field and knowing he has at least a decade at the top level to come, any fee seems like it would be a minimal loss.

To partner with him, various other names have been suggested to join the club as well. In this case, recently-linked Matthijs de Ligt should be the player to target.

The Dutchman, who has played at the pinnacle of Italian and German football over recent seasons, is now said to be on the market for the right price. His formative years in the sport saw him moulded by Ten Hag, both then of Ajax, into the calming presence he is today, and reigniting that form is a challenge the United boss can relish.

So without further ado, MEN Sport presents United's dream 2024/25 starting XI based on those three key signings...

Manchester United Dream XI 2024/25 with Manuel Ugarte and double centre-back signings
Manchester United Dream XI 2024/25 with Manuel Ugarte and double centre-back signings -Credit:line-up builder